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Coming Out

I am what people would consider a “perfectionist.” I can remember getting a 99 on a math test in 8th grade and immediately feeling a pit in my stomach. You couldn’t convince me that wasn’t a letdown.

This pressure has always been self-inflicted. It’s the source of both my greatest achievements as well as my most persistent anxieties.

It was this need to be perfect — this unshakable desire to make my parents and my peers proud, despite their insisting that they already were — that used to keep me up at night, staring at the ceiling, contemplating how my life would change when I finally revealed the one secret that had been festering in my mind for years. The secret that, instead of fading with time, had forced its way deeper into my thoughts and feelings with each passing day.

Will they still love me? Will they still be proud? Will they still want to be my friend?

I asked myself these questions again and again.

What will change when I tell them that I think I am gay?

For years, I was able to bury these incessant questions by throwing myself into my sport. When I was on the field, and only when I was on the field, I could quiet the voice in my head. Then the questions surrounding my identity and how it might damage my closest relationships would disappear. On the field, I was a soccer player. And I was only a soccer player.

Rather than reflect on who I was, I thought about ways to train and which college I should play for. But once I was settled at Penn State University, I found myself with more time on my own and more individual freedom. I could no longer perpetually ignore my internal confusions by being entirely consumed with something else, and so I finally allowed myself the space to explore my sexuality.

By sophomore year, I had my first steady relationship. I tried to keep it quiet, but — as many of you know — there’s no hiding things from your team. I realized that despite my best efforts, they’d find out eventually. I knew I had to tell them first.

I remember sitting one of my teammates down and, my voice shaking, finally confessing my innermost secret.

“Okay, so you’re gay,” she blankly replied. “What do you want to do for lunch?”

I couldn’t have been more relieved. What I considered this huge secret, this monumental revelation, didn’t change our relationship at all. And as the rest of my teammates found out, not one of them judged me, shunned me, or looked at me any differently. They didn’t care.

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It was this initial relief that gave me the courage to officially come out to my older brother Kevin. Sitting on an old couch in the living room of my college house, I wiped the sweat off my palms and took out my phone. Struggling through trembling fingers, I typed, “Hey” into the message field and sent it to him.

“Hey,” he replied.

“I’ve got something to tell you,” I wrote, working up the courage to type those words that I’d held close for so long.

“Oh yeah?” he inquired.

“I think I’m gay.”

“You think?”

“I’m gay,” I wrote, as my heart leapt from my chest.

I watched the three bubbles bob as he typed, my stomach churning with each passing moment. And then, it appeared. Kevin replied,

“I’m so proud of you. You’re always going to be my little sister. I don’t care who you love, I will always love you.”

After coming out to Kevin and receiving his support, I felt liberated to tell the rest of my family. I also started to open up with my friends and teammates about my relationship and my life in general. All my fears, constant companions for so many years, were proven inconsequential. My family, my friends, my teammates: they didn’t care who I loved, as long as I was happy.

Soccer went from being my escape to becoming an incredible support system. By finally letting myself be vulnerable, by sharing the parts of myself I’d previously kept hidden, fearing they were “too different” to share, I was able to connect with my friends and teammates on a deeper level.

As I sit here now reflecting on my own story and all of the twists and turns that have led me to this point, I can’t help but feel grateful. I grew up with an extremely loving and supportive family that molded me into the person and athlete I am today. Their love, along with the support of the soccer community, has helped me realize that of all the successes a person can achieve, the greatest is being proud of exactly who they are.

Even though I’ve only just scratched the surface of my self-understanding, I’ve learned that what was truly bothering me wasn’t being gay. It was the uncertainty surrounding it all. I was worried that being gay was an imperfection. I was worried that being gay would let other people down. But when I was consumed by these concerns regarding other people’s opinions of me, I was worried about things that were simply out of my control.

Now, instead of focusing on the different ways outsiders may perceive me, I reflect on all of the people in my life that love and support me unconditionally. I focus on treating others with respect, and I trust that the values of decency and kindness form the only compass I truly need.

So, what changed when I came out to my family and friends?

Nothing, or almost nothing. My family still loved me, and my friends were still my friends. None of our relationships were any different. Only my own self-perception was transformed: I discovered more confidence, insight, and perspective than I could have ever hoped for.

WNBA teams make history with 2024 season ticket sell-outs

Arike Ogunbowale on the wnba court for the dallas wings
The Dallas Wings are now the third team to sell out their entire season ticket allotment in WNBA history. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

Smith and Swanson shine in action-packed NWSL weekend

sophia smith celebrates after a goal for the portland thorns
Sophia Smith's 27th-minute goal paved the way for Portland's first win of the season. (Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports)

USWNT regulars Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson furthered their cases for Olympic inclusion with their respective club victories on Saturday and Sunday.

After a roller coaster of a week that saw former Thorns head coach Mike Norris reassigned and a flurry of last-minute roster reshufflings as Friday's trade window closure loomed, the NWSL sprung to life over the weekend with standout performances from ninth-place Portland and third-place Chicago, among others.

After her blocked attempt at goal set up a volleying sixth-minute opener from veteran Christine Sinclair — now the only player in history to record a goal in all 11 NWSL seasons — Smith swiftly netted her own in the 27th minute off a breakaway run that eluded Houston's backline. The goal represented Smith's third of the season as well as her 35th for the Thorns, ultimately leading to the home side's first win of the season in a 4-1 routing of the Dash.

But that wasn't Smith's only stat of the evening. The star forward also lapped former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr to become the youngest player to reach 50 NWSL goal contributions across all games, chalking up 40 goals and 10 assists at the age of 23 years and 254 days.

"Obviously it feels good to get a win," said Smith in a post-match press conference. "But this is the standard the Thorns have always had. So a win is great, but a win is the expectation — we're hungrier than ever after the way we started."

170 miles up the road, Lumen Field similarly showcased some promising Olympic prospect footwork on Sunday. In Chicago's 2-1 victory over the lagging 13th-place Seattle Reign, striker Mallory Swanson racked up an impressive counterattack assist on fellow forward Ally Schlegel's fourth-minute goal. Swanson went on to find the back of the net herself before halftime, lacing an explosive ball into the top corner in the 31st minute, her second of the season after returning from a lengthy sidelining injury.

Speaking of injuries, fellow USWNT favorites Alex Morgan and Tierna Davidson were not as fortunate as their national squad teammates this weekend. Each exited their club matches early, Morgan with an ankle knock in San Diego's loss to Orlando and Davidson with an apparent hamstring incident early on in Washington's win over Gotham.

LSU takes first-ever NCAA gymnastics title

Kiya Johnson of the LSU Tigers reacts after winning the national championship during the Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships
Gymnast Kiya Johnson celebrates LSU's win at the NCAA Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

LSU came out on top at the 2024 NCAA women's gymnastics championship in Fort Worth on Saturday, besting Cal, Utah, and Florida to capture their first-ever title.

The Tigers' win was far from a landslide. LSU took the first rotation handily thanks to 2024 All-Around winner Haleigh Bryant's team-leading 9.9375 backed by four additional 9.9+ scores from her teammates. But Utah then responded with three strong beam performances of their own, causing the Red Rocks to slide confidently into second place by the end of the second rotation.

By the halfway point, all four teams fell within .288 points of one another before Utah overtook the pack with a dominant floor showing after three rotations. LSU then went on to ace the beam event with Konnor McClain's meet-leading 9.9625 score, coming away with the highest collective score ever awarded to the event in NCAA championship history. The achievement propelled the Tigers to victory, ensuring them the title after the final rotation.

"This team is full of individuals that have incredible character and integrity and love for each other and all the things you hear from coaches when they sit at a podium like this in a moment of victory, but I promise you it's a real thing," said LSU coach Jay Clark in a post-meet press conference. "I'm just so happy for them."

Contributing to Saturday's atmosphere of excitement was the absence of last year's champion and this year's heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners. Hot off earning the highest team score in NCAA history just last month, the top-ranked Norman squad suffered a shocking loss in the semifinals, where five major mistakes contributed to a third-place finish and a season-low team score of 196.6625.

With Oklahoma out, it was truly anyone's game.

"Every team was out there fighting for their lives — all four teams, it could have gone any of four ways out there," Clark told reporters. "As much as I feel for what happened to Oklahoma in the semifinals, I think it made for a championship that became so packed with emotion because every team out there believed they could do it. It was just tremendous."

LSU is now the eighth program in the sport's history to earn an NCAA women's gymnastic championship.
They share the honor with Georgia, Utah, UCLA, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, and Michigan.

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